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M.T. ROWE AND R.B. KIRK. 2001 . Micro-organisms which are subjected to non-lethal stress can exhibit significantly greater resistance when both the same or an unrelated stress is subsequently reapplied. This latter phenomenon is termed ‘cross-protection’. In experiments using three strains of Escherichia coli harbouring cytotoxic necrotizing factor 1 and/or cytolethal distending toxin all three exhibited significantly greater (P < 0·05) resistance to salt (20% w/v) or heat (56 °C for up to 75 min) when prestressed with lactic acid (pH 4). This work indicates that the cross-protection phenomenon should be taken into account when devising food process operations designed to minimize the risk posed by these pathogens.